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Mycosis fungoides (MF), the most common type of cutaneous T-cell lymphoma, is characterized by proliferation of malignant skin-tropic T cells. Progression from early-stage disease (skin patches and/or plaques) to more advanced stages (cutaneous tumours, erythroderma or extracutaneous involvement) occurs slowly and can be discontinuous. Prognosis is poor for the ~25% of patients who progress to advanced disease. Patients at any stage of MF may experience reduced health-related quality of life (QoL) via a spectrum of physically and psychologically debilitating symptoms that can impact many aspects of daily life. Allogeneic stem-cell transplantation is a curative treatment option for some patients with advanced disease, but otherwise there is currently no cure for MF; patients are often refractory to several treatments and require lifelong management. The goals of therapy are symptom control, prevention of disease progression, avoidance of treatment-related toxicity and maintenance/improvement of QoL. Although treatment regimens exist it can be difficult to know how to prioritize them, hence therapies are tailored according to patient needs and drug availabilities, following clinical recommendations. International consensus guidelines recommend skin-directed therapies (SDTs) as first-line treatment for early-stage disease, and SDTs combined with systemic therapy for advanced stages. Chlormethine (CL), also known as mechlorethamine, chlorethazine, mustine, HN2, caryolysine and embichin, is a synthetic deoxyribonucleic acid-alkylating agent that was used as a chemical weapon (mustard gas) during the First World War. Subsequent investigation revealed that survivors of mustard gas exposure had lymphocytopenia, and that CL could inhibit rapidly proliferating malignant T cells. CL has since been developed as a topical treatment for MF and prescribed as such for over 70 years. This review aims to summarize the current knowledge regarding the mechanism of action of CL in the cutaneous micro-environment, in the specific context of MF treatment. © 2023 The Authors. Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology.


E Guenova, P L Ortiz-Romero, B Poligone, C Querfeld. Mechanism of action of chlormethine gel in mycosis fungoides. Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology : JEADV. 2023 Sep;37(9):1739-1748

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PMID: 37262305

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